diamonds and pearls

When are you supposed to take down your Christmas decorations? Surely not yet. I am still liking my twinkly Christmas lights. Also, I bought two Christmas stockings today – red and white striped ticking, which I am loving. Next year I will be all set! (There were no stockings this year due to my misplaced conviction I should make them instead. Now the heat has finally convinced me this will never happen.)

I just ate strawberries and they were GREAT. Now I’m wishing I hadn’t given half of them to Mr. T.

My sister liked her official festive painting painted by a turtle. In return she sent me some pyjamas (cool) (I wore them up the road the other day to get fish & chips) (is that bad?) and a green felt bag and some chopsticks in their own plastic holder. Awesome.

ho ho ho

Merry Christmas everyone! Did you enjoy your break? Are you, perchance, still on your break? If so, I hate you. I am back at work for the three days between Christmas and New Years; officially the quietest time of the year for my job, which is why I’m sitting here writing this and listening to my NEW OFFICIAL FESTIVE iPOD. My already scratched, official festive iPod. Can I just say that making a gadget extra sleek and light and pretty means NOTHING if you must immediately enshrine said appliance into a case? Can I say that? Will Apple come and repossess my iPod if I say that? Because really, it doesn’t matter how beautiful it looks and how nice the lines are … because the good looking yet incredibly impractical outer shell means I must stuff it into a case and ruin said lines and never see the very nice design features. This is Complete Dumbassery as far as I’m concerned.

By the way, I did consider, what with the War on Christmas and all, saying “Happy holidays!” and discussing my “festive break” and similar; but then as I listened to my official festive MP3s I ended up thinking about the Harry Potter books and how they tie into my thoughts on Festivus. (Bear with me here.) In America, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was renamed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone; partly because US children would be unfamiliar with the idea of the ‘philosopher’s stone’. Leaving aside the issue of appropriate vocabulary, which SHITS me in rather a similar way, the issue I have here is the wider idea of ‘unfamiliarity’ as being undesirable; the practice of changing scenes and words and settings in a foreign book to make them more relevant to another country’s audience. I think this is counterintuitive and actively cheats the reader. Books help you to enter another world, to look at things in another way, to see what another viewpoint finds ordinary and contrast it with your own. As a child, the books I loved best were the ones which were most removed from my own life: fantasy (the Narnia series), the Emily series (by L.M. Montgomery, but I liked Emily much more than Anne), books set in boarding schools (the Chalet school books), and any book with a bucolic English setting. And it’s glaringly obvious that I had a thing for trilogies and series. Anyway, I didn’t so much enjoy horse stories, The Baby-Sitters Club books or books set in New Zealand (poor Maurice Gee, how I maligned you); this was too similar to my own life and although I read anything and everything as a child, I was not really interested. And the snippets of books which stay with me are the parts which were so wholly removed from my own experience: unpacking at boarding school, descriptions of food (Enid Blyton was very good here), strange words for clothing (anorak, stole, wellingtons) and other differences (‘seaside’ not beach, ‘ices’ not ice creams, ‘braids’ not plaits, ‘bangs’ not fringe) … the context made it very clear what these things were. I’m too hot and sluggish to talk in detail about how removing differences, particularly for an American audience, depresses me so greatly. But for me, this practice is related to people modifying or censoring their own lives so as not to offend or confuse other people. Even Australians using the word ‘cookie’ instead of ‘biscuit’ … the context makes it clear. You don’t need to interpret for your audience. I am a New Zealander and live in Australia. I will translate the odd word in deference to a my vast international audience (heh), such as ‘bach’ for a holiday house, but otherwise I hopefully just leave you to get on with it. Don’t you find that half the fun? Seeing other people’s lives, other experiences, in their own words and their own slang and with their own quirks? And (finally), to return to my original point – I feel the same about my personal Christmas and the ‘festive season’. This is my own experience, as related by me. You experience it through the language that I use, the place where I am, the life that I’ve lived. And I have Christmas, and I call them Christmas holidays, and it’s summer where I am, and I’m not going to try to modify it to placate an imaginary somebody who doesn’t celebrate in the same way. I read a really interesting account of someone’s Hanukkah the other day. If they had just said “happy holidays!” and brushed over their celebrations in order not to offend anyone non-Jewish … what good is that? People are different. Lives are different. Countries and attitudes and celebrations are different. I’m not a country or a corporation or a government; I don’t have to represent anyone except myself. So … merry Christmas! Enjoy your break, if you have one. Personally, I was floating down a muddy river on a lilo in 36 degree heat. Tres Australian. And aren’t you glad?

chipmunks roasting on an open fire

My sister and I are in the process of swapping a festive e-card back and forth. Her latest sally: “Dodecahedron. Dodecaheeeeeeeedron.” I have replied with: “Bed goes up … bed goes down. Bed goes up … Bed goes down.” As you do. It’s Christmas, after all.

After all my bleating about posting my family’s presents home; as you will recall (you WILL recall) they were posted on Wednesday and I received notice that they had arrived the following Monday. Less than a week, people. I claim this victory in the name of New Zealand Post! Now let’s hope nothing was broken…

We had our Kris Kringle at work today (pick a random name out of the hat, buy them a $10 present). I bought my workmate this. Admit it, you want one. You want one SO BAD. And it should give you some idea of the caring, nurturing, supportive environment in which I work.

Also, there is absolutely no food in my fridge. No food. Well, apart from fat and radishes. Really, that’s it. Vintage cheddar, brie, blue brie, parmesan, camembert, sour cream, butter, goosefat, pork dripping, pancetta, milk, and a bunch of radishes. See? Fat. And radishes. I’m telling the truth. I’ll post a photo if I remember to take one.

secret window

This is the wall opposite one of my bedroom windows as the sun shines in. It seems to be an unremarkable leadlight window as you look through it, but the light reveals that all the glass panes are completely different.

It’s these aspects of living in a 150-year old house which make you forget about the other ones, like the drunken floor and leaky roof.

Things I did Yesterday

Thing I did Yesterday #1:
I posted my family’s Christmas presents yesterday (well Mr. T did. I delegated. It was an executive decision. Middle management, here I come!) As long as everything doesn’t smash into a thousand tiny pieces, I am pretty pleased with my efforts. My parents are going up to the bach for Christmas (that’s a beach house, or shack, in translation for international guests) so their presents have to reach them in the next 10 days. That’s a big call for Australia Post, who SUCK. If they can rouse themselves to get the box over to New Zealand, it will be delivered, because New Zealand Post is FAST and GOOD. Australia? SUCK. (Note to Australia Post: please don’t smash my box of presents out of spite. Or incompetence.) New Zealand doesn’t even have postcodes/zipcodes/area codes, for God’s sake, and the mail always turns up. I once addressed an envelope using Roman numerals and pictograms, and it was delivered. Correctly.

Thing I did Yesterday #2:
I fed the dogs last night (chicken wings) but there wasn’t quite enough. So I threw some pasta on to boil with plans of adding in some leftover mince. Then I wandered away. After a while, a dog came up the hall to find me. “Hello dog!” I said. “Did you eat your dinner? Did you like your dinner? Did you? Did you? Did you? Answer me!” The dog whined at me and wandered away again. See, I remembered feeding the dogs. The dogs had eaten chicken. I remembered nothing else. Until I smelled burning. Of course, I burned the ever-loving FUCK out of the pasta. The back of the house was filled with a greyish haze. “You!” I yelled accusingly at the smoke detector. “You go off like an air raid siren whenever I open the oven, but when there is actual SMOKE you remain silent? J’accuse!” Then I scraped out the thin layer of pasta which had not yet adhered to the bottom of the saucepan, added the mince and some supplements, and fed the dogs again. I like to think the burnt bits added flavour. Or character. Or carcinogens.

dumbassery

So I have only had internet on and off for the past few days, including the weekend. I bitched and moaned, and whined, and grumbled. Nothing helped. Nothing! If the internet goes screwy, it usually affects our big computer, because that’s got Norton AntiVirus or whatever, which fireballs and firewalls the connection at random. But it was just my remote laptop suffering. Why? O, why? Was it because we removed our IKEA computer table and replaced it with the huge dining table we don’t need, thereby pulling and yanking on cords? Don’t think so, because the connection was still available to the big computer. Was it because I rearranged my scale collection and ended by displaying the router nicely on my giant butcher’s scales? Hmmm, that could be it. The metal scales were interfering with the signal … Mr. T! Check the signal! Engage the deflecting ion shields!

Not the fault of the metal scales. Mr. T took great delight in informing me that when moving the router I pulled out the aerial. Which I did not discover, over a 4-day period. Yes. Thank you! It may scare you to know that normally I am considered quite technologically advanced! I know! It’s mind boggling!

dick

So look, I’m back. I have a good excuse. I have had a friend staying with me, as she’s going through some relationship troubles. And that’s fine, and she’s welcome to stay, and angst and belabour and micro-analyse as much as she pleases. Lord knows I’ve done it to her. But, see, there’s nothing I can really say. I can’t say, “he’s a dick,” even if he is being a dick. (And he is being a dick.) Because she doesn’t want to hear that, really. Well, she does, but then if she decides that he’s worth a second chance (actually, third chance) (see? he’s a dick) to try to work it out, she’ll know I said he was a dick. So I can’t really say that. (But, for the record, he IS being a dick. In fact, a total dick.) So all I can really say is soothing platitudes like, “you’ll figure out what you need to do,” and “take all the time you want,” and “just because he’s sprung all this on you at Christmas when you’re supposed to be going away on holiday together doesn’t mean he’s a dick” (YES IT DOES), and so on. Exhausting. And it’s not even me with the dick problems. So to speak.

In other news, we bought a table which we don’t need and won’t even fit in our house. I despair sometimes, I really do.

isn’t a covey a type of rodent?

See, now I’m in the habit of posting. I have a Habit! I am a Highly Effective Person! Has anyone ever read that book? All the way through, I mean? I got up to something about walking down a road, or a path maybe, and completely zoned out and gave up. I am not Highly Effective, I have to say. I love setting schedules and timetables and things, but don’t like following them. I like making other people follow them. Do you know what this means? I think I have found my destiny: I shall be Middle Management.